In the case of Iran nukes, Israel likely to intervene
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu has engineered a remarkable political success. It could mean war before the leaves turn color.
For Americans and for Sunni Arab Muslims, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a very dangerous, very urgent problem.
For Israelis, it means the gas chambers are warmed up and the Gestapo is pounding on the door. The mullahs have made it clear what they intend to do with nukes once they get them.
President Barack Obama's inaction indicates he won't do anything meaningful to keep the Iranians from getting the bomb. So Israel must.
Iran is the existential threat, but not the only one. Israel could face war on 9 fronts, said David Meir-Levy. Islamists plan to repudiate the peace treaty with Israel when they take power in Egypt in a few months. Syrian dictator Bashir Assad needs to divert attention from his brutal repression of dissidents. Hamas and the PLO need to take the minds of Palestinians off their failure to improve living standards.
But the lamb destined for slaughter turned the tables on the hyenas preparing to feast upon its flesh. In June Israel launched a preemptive strike which destroyed the Egyptian air force. The rout of the Arab armies in the Six Day War is now the stuff of legend.
The dangers of waiting to be attacked were made clear in 1973. Israel would have lost the Yom Kippur War -- and its existence -- were it not for massive military aid from the United States, and the strategic depth acquired in 1967.
His political coup gives Bibi Netanyahu the flexibility to launch a preemptive strike of his own.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, aside from fledgling Iraq. But it is cursed by proportional representation on steroids. Only 2 percent of the vote is required to win a seat in the Israeli parliament. As a consequence, 13 parties have seats in the Knesset.
Every government is a coalition, with fringe parties often holding the balance of power. Though Mr. Netanyahu is the most popular politician in Israel, his Likud party has only 27 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. Before the big deal, his 6 party coalition had just 66 seats.
So Mr. Netanyahu's achievement May 7-8 in forging a "national unity" government with the leading opposition party is monumental. His grand coalition now includes 94 members of the Knesset.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a former chief of the general staff, shares the prime minister's view that if there is no other way to keep Iran from getting the bomb, there must be a military strike.
But what triggered Kadima's decision to join the government was Mr. Netanyahu's threat to call elections for September. Polls indicated Likud would gain seats at Kadima's expense.
It hasn't been lost on students of history that days before Israel launched its strike in 1967, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol invited right wing parties to join a national unity government.
Just because Mr. Netanyahu now has the domestic political flexibility to go to war doesn't mean he will. There were good domestic political reasons for forming the unity government.
The paramount consideration is when Iran will have a functioning nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. Israel must strike before then. So when might that be?
By the end of this year, Israeli intelligence thinks, but other Western intelligence agencies don't think that can happen before the fall of 2013, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported in March. Evidence obtained by the International Atomic Energy Agency this month suggests the Israelis may be closer to the mark.
The optimal time for Mr. Netanyahu to strike would be between Labor Day and the U.S. elections in November, because President Obama will be too distracted then to interfere, said Israeli television commentator Amnon Abramovich May 3.
First Published May 18, 2012 3:52 pm